FALUN, SWEDEN – Olympic hero Noriaki Kasai reached Wednesday’s ski jumping World Cup podium in his first competition since the Sochi Winter Games.
The 41-year-old Kasai was third on Falun’s K-120 hill behind Germany’s Severin Freund and Slovenia’s Peter Prevc, who leads the World Cup standings with 988 points. Kasai, with 806 point is third, while Freund is fourth with 727.
Kasai, who won large-hill silver and team bronze in Sochi, was concerned about the possibility that he might suffer a letdown after Sochi.
“I came prepared,” he said. “I was full of confidence that I could win here, so this result is regrettable.”
Kasai earned 125.2 points from his 133-meter first jump and was in second place behind Freund after the first round. Kasai’s second jump of 130.5 meters earned him just 123.6 points, while Prevc moved from 10th to second with a flawless 133.5-meter second jump worth 131.9 points.
It was Kasai’s fifth Cup podium of the season.
His Japan Olympic teammates Yuta Watase and Taku Takeuchi were 30th and 43rd, respectively. Takeuchi, who was on the bronze medal-winning team in Sochi, did not qualify for the second round.
Freund won a gold medal in the Sochi team jump, while Prevc won silver in the normal hill and bronze on the large hill.